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Fracking suspension lifted as UK joins new ‘dash for gas’

Energy secretary Ed Davey has lifted the suspension on fracking for shale gas, on condition of strict seismic controls.

The controversial practice was halted following two minor earthquakes caused by exploratory fracking in Lancashire last year.

Environmental activists say the method could contaminate aquifers and threaten the UK’s climate change targets, as burning fossil fuels like natural gas contributes creates large amounts of carbon emissions.

But Davey said: “Shale gas represents a promising new potential energy resource for the UK. It could contribute significantly to our energy security, reducing our reliance on imported gas, as we move to a low carbon economy. My decision is based on the evidence. It comes after detailed study of the latest scientific research available and advice from leading experts in the field.”

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has published a report which suggests pursuing a gas-focused energy strategy would see average household bills of £1,300 today rise by £600 in coming decades, rather than a £100 rise if the Government concentrated on renewable energy and nuclear.

Tony Grayling, head of climate change and communities at the Environment Agency, which regulates fracking in the UK, said today: “The Environment Agency takes the potential risks arising from fracking for shale gas extraction very seriously and has undertaken a thorough assessment of them.

“We are satisfied that existing regulations are sufficient to protect people and the environment in the current exploratory phase. We have also established a shale gas unit to act as a single point of contact for industry to ensure there is an effective, streamlined approach for the regulations that fall within our responsibility.”

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